Put down that can opener! There is no condensed soup in this recipe, but it’s still easy to make.
This is one of those recipes put together with things from the pantry—rice, sour cream, cheese, carrots, and, of course, chicken. Your ingredients might vary, but that’s how new favorites are born. I hadn’t even thought about blogging this recipe in advance, so there is just this one photo of the dish as it came out of the oven:
Cheesy Chicken Rice Casserole
Preheat oven to 350°; butter a 1 1/2-2 quart shallow baking dish
1 cup brown jasmine rice or whatever rice you have on hand
2 1/2 cups chicken stock or bouillon, such as Better Than Bouillon® chicken base
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
1 large onion, diced
1 large carrot, diced—or whatever vegetable you have on hand, such as fresh or frozen broccoli or peas or a combination of vegetables
5 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream—or heavy cream or half and half
2 cups shredded cheese, such as Sargento® 4 Cheese Mexican
Optional: 1 cup breadcrumbs mixed with 2 tablespoons melted butter (I keep fresh breadcrumbs in the freezer made from leftover rolls)
I try to keep a number of pantry items on hand, because I just don’t have the temperament to plan out a week’s worth of recipes every week, and it’s nice to be able to put together a dish without having to run to the grocery for just a few items and then spend more than you want on impulse buys.
I keep 3-4 types of rice on hand (Arborio, brown, white, wild blend) and a number of cheeses. When I made this yesterday, I had part of a Parmesan wedge, 2 packages of the Mexican shredded cheese, queso fresco, and about a cup of shredded pepper jack. I pick up a container of sour cream every week, because it comes in handy in so many ways, especially when I just want to throw something in a tortilla. So you can see how this recipe came together.
- Cook the rice in 2 cups of the chicken stock. It takes about 45 minutes to cook the rice, during which time you can prepare the rest of the ingredients. Use the remaining 1/2 cup of stock to use if you think the final dish needs more moisture. The important step here is cooking the rice first. You can make a casserole in which the rice cooks in the oven, but it has to be tightly covered, and then the other ingredients can overcook. The worse scenario is when the rice doesn’t cook and you wait and wait or eat crunchy rice. Just cook the rice first.
- In a large saute pan, saute the onion and carrot in 2 tablespoons oil over medium heat until the onion is translucent.
- Remove the vegetables and add the chicken cubes to the same pan, stirring to quickly brown in 2-3 tablespoons oil over medium high heat.
- Turn off the heat and return the vegetables to the pan, then stir in the rice, sour cream, and shredded cheese.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish and cover with the breadcrumb mixture or reserved cheese. Bake for 25 minutes, until top is browned and the casserole is bubbling around the edges.
My favorite things about casseroles:
- cleaning up the kitchen while it’s in the oven
- the ease of one-dish meals
- crunchy toppings